As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 32. Darl Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Darl focuses his gaze on Jewel, who is glaring with hostility at Tull. The scene sets Darl off into a memory of earlier childhood, when Jewel was fifteen. Darl recalls that Jewel began to sleep all day at this point in his life, such that the rest of the siblings had to take over the chores of feeding the mules, milking the cows, and so on. All along, Addie would rationalize enforce the other siblings to take over Jewel's share of chores so Anse would not find out about Jewel's negligence.
Darl's memory of Jewel and his past sets the stage for understanding why the brothers seem to have such an intense rivalry. Based on this anecdote, Addie and Anse also de-romanticize ideals of marriage and family, as Addie is more concerned with protecting Jewel than with being honest to her husband.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
One night, Darl hears Jewel get up and climb out of his window, only to be followed by Cash. The next morning, Darl asks Cash what he saw but Cash dutifully keeps Jewel's whereabouts private. One morning in November, five months later, Jewel returns home one day on a horse. When Anse asks where he got the horse, Jewel replies that he bought it from Mr. Quick. Anse gets angry and scolds Jewel, but Jewel proudly answers that he would kill the horse before letting him eat anything provided by Anse.
Jewel's firm dedication to working each night so that he could buy himself a horse sets him apart from the rest of the Bundrens. While admirable, Jewel's commitment to action causes him to lie to his siblings and get his mother involved in the deception, all in order to prove himself independent. Even in this situation, there is a contrast between what is seemingly heroic (Jewel's work for the horse) and a self-interested action.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Addie is devastated that Jewel has kept this part of his life a secret, but Cash attempts to comfort her. In the night, Darl discovers Addie lying next to Jewel's bed weeping. Darl claims at that moment, "And then I knew that I knew. I knew that as plain on that day as I knew about Dewey Dell on that day."
Darl's enigmatic reference to "knowing" something about Addie in Jewel is a moment of intense foreshadowing about further dysfunctional aspects of the Bundren family. Again, Darl is in a position of being a powerful observer and man of language, especially when contrasted with the physicality of his brother Jewel.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon